Project Summary: Computer Science Exploration Project

Lead: Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida – High School High Tech
Two smiling high school students hold up an NXT controllerContacts: Amy Tharpe and Melissa Merrill
Contact E-mails: -
Project Dates: February 18 - October 30, 2012
Total Number of Youth Served: 41
Funding: $4,500

Project Summary:
We targeted high school students with disabilities with the goal of exposing them to, and educating them on, computer science and computer science careers. We had nine events from February to October to educate students and give them hands on experiences. We began with a site visit to FSU’s High Magnetic Field Laboratory to learn about how computer technology related to their research through hands-on demonstrations, self-guided tours and visits with the scientists. Next, we took them to Palm Bay High School to learn about their student competition robotics team. Palm Bay students explained the process they must go through to create their robots and conducted robot demonstrations. We also took them to the Sid Martin Biotech Incubator, which houses scientific research companies, to learn about how they used computer science technology to enhance their research. We took them to New Horizons Computer Learning Center on two occasions to learn about the school and the computer technology programs they teach as well as the technology they use to implement their classes online. We took them to NAS JAX to use the flight simulators that naval pilots utilize for training and to experience the amazing technology used to create real world simulations in a safe environment. We also partnered with UF’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department to learn about their robotics teams and education programs. They opened up their lab to us to demonstrate their creations and explain the technology behind them. We also took a group of students to GWIZ, where they were first introduced to the Lego Mindstorms, which were the robots we purchased for our last event where students assembled and programmed their robots to complete a task. It was a great way to tie in everything they had learned throughout the project.

High school student programming a controller on a computerProject Impact:
Our main goals in this project were to increase the awareness and exposure of our students to the field of computer science, help them develop a greater interest and appreciation of computer science and hopefully spark an interest in pursuing a career in computer science. From our post surveys, using a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), 80% of all student participants stated they enjoyed the program activities, with rating scores of 4 or 5 and 31% are actually considering a career in the computer science field. Since the start of this project, according to our pre and post surveys, there was a 20% increase in students developing a greater interest and appreciation of computer science and having a greater awareness of all that is offered within the computer science industry. The students who attended the majority of the events expressed a greater understanding of computer science and said they enjoyed the activities. We had a few students actually change their career path after an event. We had one student who was planning a career as a professional football player who changed his mind to pursue aviation after our NAS JAX trip. We had another student switch from the medical field to computer technology after the robotics and New Horizons events. Overall we feel our students achieved every goal we established at the beginning of this project. They were able to gain a better understanding and appreciation of computer science and were able to experience various opportunities in diverse computer science related career fields.

How did this project benefit from being a collaborative effort?
Without the collaboration from our valued partners, we would not have been able to achieve any of our goals for this project, because we would not have been able to provide any computer science activities for our students. It is through these collaborative partnerships that we were able to conduct hands-on, educational and fun computer science activities for our High School High Tech students. We depended on our partners for their resources and expertise to educate our students and to provide support to us through our robotics event. As stated in our project summary, every partner we had provided a site visit for our students to learn about their career field, as well as hands on activities for our students to learn from, and shared their expert knowledge of computer science applications in their field.

Final Budget
Item CSCP Funding Other Funds Source of Other Funds TOTAL FUNDS
Transportation Costs $2,004.92     $2,004.92
Student Meals $1,135.64     $1,135.64
Entrance Fees $140.00     $140.00
Rootics Equipment - LEGO Mindstorms Kits $1,219.44 $21.36 Student Fundraising Projects $1,219.44
Total $4,500.00 $21.36   $4,521.36